The following is a statement I made before the River Forest Development Review Board on April 18 during their consideration of a Planned Development permit for 400 Ashland in River Forest:
"My wife Charlotte and I are 13-year residents of 411 Ashland, River Forest. Our balcony is in eyesight of 400 Ashland, the property in question.
"I oppose the application of Central Ashland LLC [identified at the meeting as being owned by Granite Realty Partners LLC of Oak Park] to subdivide the building at 400 Ashland into an apartment and four office spaces.
"Subdividing in River Forest would set a very dangerous precedent. History shows that subdividing space lowers property values and taxes. Armed with this precedent, Granite could buy 419 and 423 Ashland and 812 Lathrop. All of these properties are similar to 400 Ashland — vacant, on the market for years with no offers, easily divided into apartments and with no off-street parking. With nearly 6,000 square feet of space near the River Forest Public Library, 812 Lathrop is an old mansion.
"The applicant has stated that he would need 10 street spaces, plus spaces for clients. This creates an unnecessary hardship for longtime River Forest residents in the adjacent condo buildings, which have been there for over 50 years.
"I repeat: Subdividing in River Forest would set a dangerous precedent. The village departments gave approval in their narrow focus; however, the Development Review Board and the village board must look at the entire governing ordinance. The review of the River Forest Zoning Ordinance (2640, 5-23-95) calls for a speedy rejection of this application.
"Denying the application to subdivide 400 Ashland is in the best interest of River Forest residents. I ask that the Development Review Board deny this application."
Note: The Board approved the application 6-0 with minor modifications. Granite's architect took up most of the meeting time with a power point presentation. He compared the "mixed use" building at 444 Lake St. as similar to 400 Ashland. He did not identify 444 Lake as a Granite-developed building that had extensive repair when the mortar had to be replaced on much of the building. I am not suggesting that Granite had any responsibility for the bad mortar. I just watched the mortar being replaced.
By putting an apartment in the building, Granite reduced taxes by $23,000. The board was not concerned because it was only a tax loss of $2300 for River Forest.
Many residents voiced concern about potential loss of street parking. Street parking could be lost for caregivers, medical assistance, relatives and guests.
The village board will vote on this matter at its May 27 meeting.
Retired risk management consultant